Super Organism

‘We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than we know about the soil underfoot’ ~ Da Vinci

Invisible to the naked eye, but threatened by our activities.
How can we tap into the network of an underappreciated but crucial organism?

It is the biggest organism that ever existed on Earth and plays a crucial role in ecosystems, carbon storage as well as our very existence. Often described as the internet or the brain of the forest, almost all plants are connected with each other through a below-ground fungal network, called Mycorrhiza.

Often referred to as communication, plants ‘trade’ carbon for better access to nutrients, minerals and water. More than half of all carbon taken up by plants during photosynthesis is passed on to Mycorrhiza, which stores it in its mycelium.

This ancient symbiosis between plants and fungi, and therefore carbon storage, is threathened by human activities, such as the use of fertilizers in agriculture, deforestation and change in land use.

While discovering about this collaboration between plants and fungi, I noticed how we tend to compare it to human structures, such as the internet or the brain. To a certain extend this helps us to empathize with, yet simultaneously limits our understanding of this relatively unknown species.

This project explores if we can experience the importance of relatively unknown or invisible natural phenomena without anthropomorphizing them and how we can connect to them.

By experimenting with the different senses, such as touch, sound and smell, this project aims to connect to this hidden organism.

This project is done in collaboration with soil scientist Nadia Soudzilovskaia and her PhD students Riccardo Mancinelli, Weilin Huang & Chenguang Gao. The project is supported by MIAP Foundation and Mondriaan Fonds.

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